An American military base on the Moon, defended by nuclear grenade launchers. If that doesn’t sound like an atomicpunk fantasy, I don’t know what does.
Except it was a real plan.
A 1959 feasibility study, codenamed Project Horizon, argued for a lunar outpost, manned by about a dozen soldiers, to keep the Moon out of Soviet hands.
Building it would be no small feat. Horizon projected 147 Saturn A-1 rocket launches would be needed to bring construction materials into low Earth orbit, where they would be assembled at a purpose-built space station before being ferried to the Moon.
There, the first lunar soldiers would need to build their own base using a tractor-like multipurpose Moon vehicle. The base itself would be in an underground tube and powered by a nuclear reactor.
The total cost was put at $6 billion. For comparison, the Apollo program would end up costing the United States $20 billion.
The base was meant to be operational by the end of 1966. It would be surrounded by Claymore mines, which were deemed the most suitable to puncturing pressure suits, while the crew would be armed with M-29 Davy Crockett nuclear guns.
Nothing came of Horizon. President Dwight Eisenhower put it in a drawer and then gave responsibility for the American space program to a new civilian agency: NASA.
For more, head over to the National Security Archive.